Monday, December 22, 2014

Leona May Hagar - Widow of John W. Williams

My G-Grandmother, Leona May Hagar, was born 25-Jan-1862 in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.  She is the daughter of John Arthur Hagar and Ellen Elizabeth Reeves.  She is the G-Granddaughter of Thomas Bilbo; one of the early settlers of Calcasieu Parish for which Bilbo Street in Lake Charles is named.

Before her marriage to James Jefferson “Jeff’ Burnett, Leona was married to John W. Williams. John was born in 24-Mar-1859 in Calcasieu Parish.  John is the son of Isaac Williams and Martha Ann Reeves. 

John Williams and Leona Hagar share the same grandmother, Nancy Anne Bilbo, but not the same grandfather.  Their mothers, Ellen and Martha, were half-sisters making John and Leona half-first cousins.  This could explain why they obtained their marriage license in Orange County, Texas instead of Calcasieu Parish were they resided.  Though Orange County is in Texas, it shares a common border with Calcasieu Parish – just across the Sabine River.  Possibly Louisiana law in the 1880’s did not allow for this close of kin to be wed?

If you look closely at the marriage certificate you will see that Minister G.W. Reeves married the couple. George W. Reeves would someday become Leona’s brother in law – George was married to Jeff Burnett’s sister Melinda.  A copy of the marriage certificate can be found below.

John and Leona had one son, John Edward “Ed” Williams, 03-Jul-1882 to 18-Mar-1975.  Ed Williams never married.  

John W. Williams died 03-Aug-1882 and is thought to be buried in Bilbo Cemetery in Lake Charles.

In 1884 widowed Leona married Jeff Burnett and they raised a family in the Ragley area.  Leona died 27-Jun-1931 and is buried next to Jeff Burnett in Magnolia Cemetery in Ragley.
John William and Leona Hagar Marriage Certificate, on file at Orange County, TX Clerk of Courts
John "Ed" Williams

Friday, December 12, 2014

Alfred Burnett - Ferry Operator

In the 1860’s Alfred Burnett operated a ferry on the Calcasieu River.  The ferry was located in what is now known as the Burnett Bay area of the Calcasieu River.  Burnett Bay is located about 2 miles east of Moss Bluff, Louisiana.  It is believed that the Alfred Burnett homeplace was located near the ferry landing. 

In the July Term 1863 Extra Session of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury minutes the following information can be found,   “Alfred Burnett granted privilege of keeping a ferry across Calcasieu river at his residence on condition he keeps the road in good condition from the landing to the Pine Woods near Marion, within a limit of 3 miles above and 3 miles below said ferry.[1]    

Marion was once the Calcasieu Parish seat and was located near Old Town Bay on the Calcasieu River. The road that Alfred Burnett was to keep is likely what is now known as Goos Ferry Road - Old Town Road on the south side of the river and Campfire Road on the north side of the river.

During the 1800’s the only way to cross over the Calcasieu River was by ferry and there were several ferries in the vicinity of Lake Charles.  Perkins Ferry which there is a park named for, Moss Ferry for which we get the town name of Moss Bluff and Goos Ferry for which Goos Ferry road is named.

In 1863 the Police Jury established the ferriage rates to be:1

Wagon or ox cart, $2.00

Horse & buggy, $1.50

Man & horse, $0.50

Lead horse, $0.75

Swimming cattle, $.06 per head

In the 1840’s Alfred Burnett’s father in law, William Seaman operated a ferry across Black Bay in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Alfred Burnett and family lived in Biloxi during this time period so is stands to reason he could have learned the ferry business while in Mississippi. 

The following photo was furnished by Molly Herrin who is a descendant of Sherrod Burnett.  Sherrod and wife Mary are standing on the right side of the porch.
Burnett Homeplace on Burnett Bay, Calcasieu River.

[1] Maude Reid Scrapbook volume 1 page 140. From microfilm at Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library, Lake Charles, LA.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The History of the Leo Burnett Homeplace

I have been told my paternal grandparent’s homeplace has been occupied by my Burnett family for a long time.  The homeplace is located on 20 acres of land in Ragley, Louisiana and is known for its large live oak trees, several which could be 100 years old. 

Leo Burnett Homeplace, photo by Michael Burnett, 09-Aug-14.

Being inquisitive of the properties history, I have now located the conveyance records documenting this property ownership since the US Government acquired it from France as part of Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

The legal description of the home site is the east half of the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 24, Township 6S, Range 9W of Louisiana meridian. The land is surveyed in the Public Land Survey System which you can read more about here.  After the land was purchased from France, the first US Government survey of the area was conducted in 1833. A digital image of the 1833 survey can be found online by clicking here

In 1890 William G. Mitchell acquired this land in a purchase of 162 acres from the US Government.    He paid $16.77 or about 10 cents per acre![1]   The US land patent for the 162 acres can be found here.
Tract Book showing purchase of land from US Government. See note 1.
William Mitchell and wife Mary E. Flurry, Find A Grave Memorial# 6667382, photo provided by Cheryl Mitchell Murray.

In 1905 William sold 20 of these 162 acres to his son Henry H. Mitchell for $30.00.[2]
Henry Mitchell and wife "Bash" Cooley, from Cheryl Mitchell Murray's Ancestry "Murray/Mitchell Family Tree".

In 1913, Henry H. Mitchell sold the same 20 acres to Frank A. Hodges for $150.00.[3]  There is a connection between Frank Hodges and Henry Mitchell –Frank Hodges sister Annie Isabel was married to Henry Mitchell’s brother, Samuel F. Mitchell. The conveyance records show the land sale included “all buildings and improvements” – it is unknown if there was a house on this land at the time of the sale.  Frank and his wife Beulah Burnett Hodges raised a family at this location.  Lydia Mae Hodges Anderson, their youngest daughter, recalls that of she and all of her siblings were born in this house.

Frank Hodges and wife Beulah V. Burnett.

In 1932, Leo E. Burnett, my grandfather, purchased the 20 acres from Frank Hodges.  This purchase also included an additional 10 acres, known as the "big field".  The cost for these 30 acres was $550.00.[4] There is also a connection between Frank Hodges and Leo Burnett – they were brother-in-laws.   This homeplace is where Leo and Ruby Hollingsworth Burnett raised a family and three of their four children were born in this home. The original house has been improved upon, but it is still lived in today by Jo Ann and Linda Burnett – daughters of Leo Burnett and Ruby Hollingsworth. 

Leo Burnett and wife Ruby V. Hollingsworth.
Leo Burnett in front of homeplace, circa 1960.
Leo Burnett Homeplace, photo by Michael Burnett, circa 1976.
Leo Burnett Homeplace, photo by Michael Burnett, 09-Aug-14.

[1] State of Louisiana, Division of Administration, Office of State Lands, U.S. Tract Book, Volume 20, Page 080, Opelousas District, Online Record, Accessed 29-Nov-14. 

[2] Beauregard Parish, LA Courthouse, Land Records, Book 5, Page 263.

[3] Beauregard Parish, LA Courthouse, Land Records, Book 6A, Page 424-425.

[4] Beauregard Parish, LA Courthouse, Land Records, Book 44, Page 574.